Sam Doran

My little corner of the Internet

Adobe Lightroom 5 beta Offers Lens Correction →

I have a long list of things I am hoping Apple will add to Aperture; lens correction is one of them.

Apple develops in private, Adobe does so in public so they give the appearance of being ahead (and some could reasonably argue that Adobe is currently ahead). It’s been more than three years since Aperture 3 was released. I am holding out hope that Apple has something really great in store.

Update: Scott Bourne says it best:

New Album from Paramore →

"New Paramore album cover"

Paramore released their new self-titled album yesterday and it’s really good. It’s available as a box set which includes a copy of the album on vinyl — that’s a classy release (I absolutely love vinyl). This is also the first album to be released since Josh and Zac left the band in 2010 (they released “Monster” in 2011 which was the first song released sans Josh and Zac).

I have long been a fan of their music. Their lyrics are open and honest, their music varies from punk rock jam to intimate and soothing vocals accompanied by a ukulele. I appreciate true musicians whose maturity and stylistic changes are evident from album to album. Paramore is definitely a band of true musicians.

Thanks Hayley, Jeremy, and Taylor for making great music.

Time Machine-like Backups Using rsync

Time Machine is one of the most significant features to be added to any desktop operating system in recent years. Before Time Machine, the percentage of users that regularly backed up their data was alarmingly small. Today, I would argue that a significant number of Mac users backup their data regularly. Windows users still have no built in backup solution that matches the elegance and simplicity of Time Machine.

The most wonderful things about Time Machine are that it uses hard links to save disk space and backups are simply folders and files on disk; Time Machine does not imprison your data in a proprietary container that can only be read by the program that created it (here’s looking at you, Acronis). The drive can easily be mounted on any Mac and you can easily browse the snapshots using the Finder. The snapshot folders are named YYYY-MM-DD-HHMMSS making it very easy to see when the snapshot was made.

Teaching Programming With iOS →

Fraser Speirs:

In 2010, computer programming was one of the cardinal subjects that iPad sceptics insisted it would “never” be possible to teach using an iPad. Well, guess what? Add another item to the pile of things that people said would “never” be possible in computing.

What I love about Fraser’s work is that he ingeniously uses technology to save money and help kids learn.

Pesky Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Updates

The number of hours I have spent trying to properly update Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is depressing. Patching software should be quick and painless but Microsoft seems determined to make life difficult for us lowly sys admins who are given the job of actually making their software work properly for normal people. (Skip to the end for the resolution)

The tale of the problematic Office 2008 Mac update is not an uncommon one as Google’s auto-complete helpfully demonstrates:

"Google search for Office 2008 Mac Update"

After some searching, I came to this support document from Microsoft that at first seems very helpful. The symptom is an exact description of my problem. Microsoft therefore must have an exact solution because this problem is common enough to have a support document describing this exact error. I’m still optimistic at this point.

And then I started reading.

My Virginia Tech Home, Monteith Hall, To Be Destroyed →

It’s an old building, arguably the worst dorm on Upper Quad. It was my home for four years while I was a student and cadet at Virgina Tech. It’s been the home of the Highty-Tighties for at least a decade. And its days are numbered.

I have many fond memories of Monteith Hall (which I pronounce “MON-teeth” much to the chagrin of my peers). From the very first day of New Cadet Week in 2002 when a handful of bald strangers stood around making idle conversation in one of the many tiny dorm rooms, only to be startled out of our minds when the door burst open and an angry Cadre Corporal (they don’t have those anymore) blasted us with loud and foreign sounding rhetoric — to my final years there where I would proudly exclaim each morning in the hallway after returning from morning PT, “It’s a great day to be a Highty-Tighty freshmen!”.

My buds and I painted the walls with motivational murals, we heel-popped holes in the walls, and we partied on Friday nights before football games by shining our instruments in the hallway (in complete silence, mind you). We practiced rappelling in the stairwell before Upper Quard Special Forces set out into the night to rappel from much greater heights, and we had airsoft wars in the halls on occasion.

Monteith Hall is the birthplace of the annual incarnation of the Highty-Tighty yearbook; Ben Thomas (HT-05) and I cooked up the idea in his dorm room and we had HT Yearbook Staff meetings in the study lounge (either the second or third floor, I can’t remember which). I met some of my life-long friends in that building. I laughed there, cried there, bled there, sweat there, and slept there. It was the place to which the band returned after many a long night in Lane Stadium, a site for sore eyes after marching a long parade in a far away city. It was our home away from home.

While I do hold a nostalgic affection for Monteith Hall, I can’t say I am sad to see it go. Even when I was cadet, the dorms felt crowded and outdated (the steam radiators were quite warm in the winter but they did tend to clang and band quite a bit) — and Monteith was without a doubt considered the worst dorm on Upper Quad. With the Corps now well over one thousand in number, I can only image how small those dorms must feel today. It’s refreshing to see the university investing in the Corps, ensuring they have the facilities and resources to train the next generation of leaders. It gives me hope.

Call Me A Hole →

This is an abomination. “Head Like A Whole” by Nine Inch Nails is a dark and powerful song, well written and artfully performed. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson is modern pop, fun and catchy but shallow and devoid of any real meaning.

I should despise this, but I don’t. I actually love it. It’s a musical paradox: happy and uplifting music with brutally honest and direct lyrics. Contrast is what gives shape to things, and this song has plenty of it. (via The Verge)